Last fall, the entire ghost town of Johnsonville, Connecticut went up for auction with a starting bid of $800K. The 19th-century mill community with eight appealing yet derelict buildings on 62 acres had been abandoned for more than two decades, ever since an aerospace millionaire's attempt to turn it into a theme park was derailed. At the auction last October, Johnsonville sold for $1.9M, but the winning bidder was unable to close the deal. Now the ghost town is back on the market, asking $2.4M. "This historic village presents a unique redevelopment opportunity to combine the historic value of the 19th century village with 21st century living," the listing claims. So get to it, aspiring cult leaders or hedge funders with DIY inclinations!
The vanishing buyer is only Johnsonville's most recent setback; there have been many others over the last 180 years. Dating back to the 1830s, the hamlet was once the hub of Connecticut's twine industry, but the industrial revolution kind of nipped that in the bud. Then it was purchased by the eccentric businessman Raymond Schmitt in 1960, who decided to turn it into a theme park. Apparently the existing buildings—an 1846 homestead, an 1845 general store, and a circa-1900 restaurant—needed some company, so Schmitt bought and transplanted a number of other 19th century buildings, like a Victorian stable and chapel from Massachusetts, into the town.
But in 1972, the quaint Neptune Mill was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. After years of never quite taking off as a tourist attraction, Schmitt got into an argument with local officials, and abandoned his project in 1994. Johnsonville has been a ghost town ever since. Lucky buyers will not only receive the eight historic structures, but also a "covered bridge, wooden dam and waterfall along with 25 acres of land suitable for residential and commercial development."
· Johnsonville Deal Falls Through; Village Back On Market [Hartford Courant]
· Calling All Cult Leaders: Entire Connecticut Town is For Sale [Curbed National]
· All Ghost Towns posts [Curbed National]
· All Abandonment Issues posts [Curbed National]